It isn’t pretty, but it made three batches this weekend. I wanted to see how it would do before drilling additional holes in the hot liquor tank to mount and connect to a better heat exchanger inside. The primary reason for HERMS is the temperature control it provides to the mash without the risk of scorching it by direct heating. I can’t point to any science that proves that recirculated wort is better in any way, but it certainly looks prettier – nice and clear. I enjoyed both features this weekend. An indirect effect is that since there is a pump already there, it makes sense to use it to transfer fluids between vessels. That means that there’s no need for a three tier gravity feed brewstand.
On a side note, I’ve been tuning up the old propane burners (changing regulators and orifices) in an effort to reduce heating time. It used to take a long time to heat up the mash strike water, and even longer to bring the end result to a boil. The good news is that I have substantially reduced heating times on both burners. The bad news is that propane usage is way up. I burned 19 pounds of propane this weekend doing three batches. I used to use about 4 pounds per batch. The new burners should be much more efficient due to the greater surface area. Better yet, they can easily be rigged to run on natural gas (MUCH less expensive than propane – and no trips to the refillng station).